"book related" entries

Four short links: 26 May 2009

Four short links: 26 May 2009

Databases, Sensors, Visualization, and Patents

  1. Flare — dynamically partitioning and reconstructing key-value server. Currently built on Tokyo Cabinet, but backend is theoretically pluggable. (via joshua on delicious)
  2. Implantable Device Offers Continuous Cancer Monitoring — the sensor network begins to extend into our bodies. The cylindrical, 5-millimeter implant contains magnetic nanoparticles coated with antibodies specific to the target molecules. Target molecules enter the implant through a semipermeable membrane, bind to the particles and cause them to clump together. That clumping can be detected by MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). The device is made of a polymer called polyethylene, which is commonly used in orthopedic implants. The semipermeable membrane, which allows target molecules to enter but keeps the magnetic nanoparticles trapped inside, is made of polycarbonate, a compound used in many plastics. (via FreakLabs)
  3. Visualizing Data source — the source code to examples in Visualizing Data.
  4. The First Software Patent (Wired) — was issued on this day in 1981, for a complex full-text storage and retrieval system. Tellingly, business strategy of the owner of the first software patent was … to become a patent lawyer. A day that will linger in irritation, if not live in infamy. (via glynmoody on Twitter)
Four short links: 20 May 2009

Four short links: 20 May 2009

Cognitive Surplus, Data Centers=Mainframes, Django Microframework, and a Visit To The Future

  1. Distributed Proofreaders Celebrates 15000th Title Posted To Project Gutenberg — a great use of our collective intelligence and cognitive surplus. If I say one more Clay Shirkyism, someone’s gonna call BINGO. (via timoreilly on Twitter)
  2. Datacenter is the New Mainframe (Greg Linden) — wrapup of a Google paper that looks at datacenters in the terms of mainframes: time-sharing, scheduling, renting compute cycles, etc. I love the subtitle, “An Introduction to the Design of Warehouse-Scale Machines”.
  3. djng, a Django powered microframework — update from Simon Willison about the new take on Django he’s building. Microframeworks let you build an entire web application in a single file, usually with only one import statement. They are becoming increasingly popular for building small, self-contained applications that perform only one task—Service Oriented Architecture reborn as a combination of the Unix development philosophy and RESTful API design. I first saw this idea expressed in code by Anders Pearson and Ian Bicking back in 2005.
  4. Cute! (Dan Meyer) — photo from Dan Meyer’s classroom showing normal highschool students doing something that I assumed only geeks at conferences did. I love living in the future for all the little surprises like this.

Datacenter Power Allocation Chart
Approximate distribution of peak power usage by hardware subsystem in one of Google’s datacenters (circa 2007)

Four short links: 8 May 2009

Four short links: 8 May 2009

  1. Citizen Journalism and Civic Reporting — Gawker rebuts the nonsense that reporters will be the only people at council meetings: as a newspaper reporter who spent a few years covering a town much like Baltimore — Oakland, California — I often found that bloggers were the only other writers in the room at certain city council committee meetings and at certain community events. They tended to be the sort of persistently-involved residents newspapermen often refer to as “gadflies” — deeply, obsessively concerned about issues large and infinitesimal in the communities where they lived. I know my local newspaper only paraphrases council press releases, they rarely actually attend the meetings. (via waxy)
  2. Keeping Score (Rowan Simpson) — It makes me wonder what other things we dismiss as being too simple to be useful. Inspired by Atul Gawande’s books, which I highly recommend.
  3. The Extraordinaries — micro-volunteer opportunities on the mobile phone. (Think of it as Mobile Turk) Another way to harness our great cognitive surplus.
  4. Visualization in Sports — roundup of the use of computer graphics and visualization in sports. Sports is competitive, lucrative, and quite fast-paced. I love to see sport and business learning from each other. (via tomc on delicious)
Four short links: 6 May 2009

Four short links: 6 May 2009

Hamster Maps, Open Flu Data, Smart Grid Dollars, and Remixable Remix

  1. Hamster Wheel Maps — Jack Schulze has created an interesting way to see the world, in the form of “horizonless maps”. The city unfolds in front of you like it was built on the inside of a hamster wheel and you’re the hamster. Wired UK shipped an enormous foldout version.
  2. Why Pig Flu is Better Than Bird Flu: Open Data (Glynn Moody) — Glynn points to GISAID (Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data), a system set up in 2006 because scientists were finding it hard to get timely H5N1 data. Following the correspondence letter in Nature, we have all pledged to share the data, to analyze the findings jointly, and to publish the results collaboratively, on the basis of open sharing of data respecting the rights and interests of all involved parties. This system has been used in the Mexican H1N1 outbreak.
  3. IBM Plays Sugar Daddy to Smart Grid (CleanTech) — IBM said it’s making $2 billion available to jump-start IT projects, including the smart grid, because of the continued difficulty for partners to get project financing. The $2 billion would come from the company’s lending and leasing arm, IBM Global Financing, in the form of low-rate loans, deferred payments, and other forms of project financing. The money is tied to projects authorized under the U.S. stimulus plan, which set aside $4.5 billion for smart grid projects. (via Freaklabs)
  4. Lessig’s “Remix” Book Now ccFree — the latest book by Larry Lessig is now available under a CC-BY-NC license. (via Lessig blog)
Four short links: 26 Mar 2009

Four short links: 26 Mar 2009

Books, Money, Collective Despair, and a Dashboard of Doom:

  1. Will The Real iPod For Reading Please Stand Up — Sebastian Mary argues eloquently that we’re too focused on long-term writing because of the requirements and constraints imposed upon us by a mass-market paper book, whereas text online is basically an experiment in different lengths and sizes to find new balances for the new medium. a glance at the self-help or business shelves of your local bookshop will show you plenty more. And yet to make economic sense they have to be padded out for publication in ‘proper’ book size. But to conclude from this (as many unwittingly do) that long-form books are necessarily the best, rather than just the most familiar, way of communicating ideas is mistaken; and to assume that this practice will transplant to e-readers, imagined as a kind of iPod for these long-form essays, is just wrong.
  2. What I’ve Learned in Angel Investing — fascinating concrete lessons learned by an ex-Yahoo! angel. Be Wary of Entrepreneurs Who are Building for Businesses They Have No Experience In: I don’t like it when people are theorizing about how a certain market is or isn’t. They will most likely find problems that they have no experience tackling. It’s better to find a company who has a veteran of the industry they are tackling so that they have at least have some first hand knowledge of what goes on in that industry.
  3. Eco DataminingBy trawling scientific list-serves, Chinese fish market websites, and local news sources, ecologists think they can use human beings as sensors by mining their communications. Reminiscent of InSTEDD’s Golden Shadow project.
  4. Check In On the State of the Economy — a very appealing idea: a dashboard for the economy that is continuously refreshed as new data comes in. The difference between a one-off infographic and a live-updating dashboard is the difference between seeing the train and watching it race towards you. (via >Flowing Data)
Four short links: 23 Mar 2009

Four short links: 23 Mar 2009

Digital rights, digital wrongs, newspaper science, and hardback socializing. Just another four short links:

  1. Twitter Mistrial — this isn’t a calamity for justice, we’re just able to do something we couldn’t do before (were there many jurors running pamphlets off on their printing presses in the old days?) so we need to figure out whether we want it or not.
  2. UK Government Outlines Digital Rights Agency — a strawman proposal for a rights agency to mediate between producers and consumers. The conservative in me bucks at market intervention, but I find it hard to argue with the problem statement: Consumers are no longer prepared to be told when and where they can access the content that they want. They do not see why a TV show that is airing in the US should not be available in the UK. They are not willing to wait to see a film at home until several months after it has passed through the cinemas. They don’t accept the logic that says that if you have bought a CD you cannot then copy that music onto your iPod. And of course with digital content perfect copies can be made with very little time and at virtually no cost.
  3. With a Newspaper Gone, Who’s the Watchdog and Where Do Advertisers Go? (Julie Starr) — roundup of people treating the closure of the Seattle Post Intelligencer, which leaves the town print-free for news, as a science experiment: if local councils really become unaccountable when local papers cease to investigate them, I’d expect to see a big increase in the value of positions of financial authority at local government level. Those positions will suddenly become a lot more valuable if no-one is watching the purse-strings all that carefully, so more candidates will want them and those candidates will spend more to win them.
  4. The Tweetbook — two years of tweets as a hardcover book. Fascinating to see the ephemeral preserved in print, although in general I wonder about the wisdom of trading ephemeral for eternal. (via Waxy)

At Risk: Universal Online Access to All Knowledge

After digesting the proposed Google Book Settlement, it becomes clear that the dizzyingly complex agreement is, in essence, an elaborate scheme for the exploitation of orphan works. The upshot, if the Settlement is approved, would be legal protection for Google, and only for Google, to scan and provide digital access to the orphan works.

Four short links: 5 Mar 2009

Four short links: 5 Mar 2009

Google Books, conference books, a museum API, and some number silliness that makes me happy.

  1. Jon Orwant on Google Book Search at TOC — Jon drops info on conversion rates, future plans, mobile, etc. See this post for a roundup of blog-world commentary on the talk.
  2. Brooklyn Museum Collection API — I’ve linked to this amazing museum work before. Now they have an API. Search collections, fetch items, embed in your sites. (via the announcement)
  3. Not So Empty Book — a magazine, built from conference content, four editions of of which were published during the brief course of the LIFT conference this year. Brilliant!
  4. March 5 is the Square Root of Christmas (Ned Batchedler) — maths geekery like this is why I found it difficult to date when I was younger. (I solved the problem by marrying someone who, when I read this post to her, said “oh COOL!”)
Four short links: 26 Feb 2009

Four short links: 26 Feb 2009

Three stories about old-media in new-media age, and some patent goblins to leave a bad taste in your mouth:

  1. The Kindle Swindle — the Authors Guild president argues that the robot voice of the Kindle does away with audiobook royalty streams, lucrative for some titles. Doesn’t mention the vast majority of books for which there is no audiobook. Creators have attempted to regulate use with licenses, but I think the plasticity of bits argues against this being possible for much longer. Now “audiobook”-ness is a feature of the device, not a feature of the retailed artistic work, and the question is not only how to charge for it but whether it makes sense to continue to charge for it. Neil Gaiman, by the way, doesn’t feel the same way as the head of the Author’s Guild.
  2. If You Want to Save Newspapers, Learn to Love Your iPhones — a long Observer piece about the “future of newspapers”, reinvention in the mobile age, subscription models, the curse of Google, etc. Many great quotes, for example: “Google is great for Google, but it’s terrible for content providers, because it divides that content quantitatively rather than qualitatively. And if you are going to get people to pay for content, you have to encourage them to make qualitative decisions about that content.” — Robert Thomson, the managing editor of The Wall Street Journal.
  3. NYT ArticleSkimmer — reminscent, vaguely, of Arts & Letters Daily, the original “big heap o’ content” page. Between this and Big Picture, I’m enjoying the experimentation in online newspaper formats.
  4. Microsoft Sues TomTom Over Patents, Including Linux Kernel — Microsoft patented elements of the FAT filesystem, including the system for representing long filenames on systems that only handle 8.3 filenames like CRAPWARE.EXE. This filesystem is used in pretty much every digital camera and Flash filesystem device, and the TomTom system in question. This Ars Digita article raises the interesting possibility that the Open Invention Network could respond by flexing its patent portfolio muscles and make it clear that nobody wants a battle over patents (except lawyers who are paid by the hour).
Four short links: 13 Feb 2009

Four short links: 13 Feb 2009

One work-related and three fun geeky links to set you up for the weekend:

  1. Continuous Deployment and Continuous Learning — I’ve been reading about the processes and structures that different organizations use to develop software, and this was interesting. “Our eventual conclusion was that there was no reason to have code that had passed the integration step but was not yet deployed.”
  2. Pixel Art with Book Jackets — the perfect thing to do with a shelf of O’Reilly books ….
  3. WhatTheFont — take a photo of some text with your iPhone and this app will identify the font.
  4. La Princesse in Liverpool — an amazing piece of civic theatre. I am in awe of Liverpool for greenlighting it, and of La Machine, the French creators of La Princesse.